KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Just look in Austin-East’s yearbook and you’ll find lots of pictures of Chinaya Mason, this year’s Prom Queen, nominated for Miss Austin-East, but most proud of her senior superlative, voted “Most Opinionated.”
“Well, I’m a firm believer of your voice, is you. So you determine what people hear from you and what people see of you, so that’s why my voice is so broad. It demonstrates my personality,” Chinaya said. “I never really meet a stranger, so I think that’s really why I’m “most opinionated.” I’ll talk to anybody, be cool with anybody, have any kind of conversation. That’s why I’m so comfortable now,” she said.
When asked where she get’s her strength, Chinaya knows the answer.
“Where does this come from? Well, mommy!” Chinaya laughed. “Definitely mommy.”
“I’m just looking like, give me some of that energy you have!” Stephanie Mason said to her daughter. We said, “well, she got it from somewhere,” and Stephanie replied,” yeah, I’m not used to being on camera!”
Chinaya is a school leader, has made the most of her years at Austin-East in one of the most challenging years students there have ever faced. The most recent, the officer-involved shooting death of student Anthony Thompson, Jr. at school.
“I think we’ll have to get a common understanding of what’s wrong is wrong and what’s right is right,” Chinaya said, “and everybody in the community isn’t always going to see the inside because they’ve never been here, so nobody is ever going to understand that day but us.”
“My opinion,” she said,” is that we can only go up from that. Justice is justice, and whenever it comes, it’ll come. I mean grieving isn’t just a blip and you’ll feel better. It’s a whole process.”
“It’s going to get better, I think ” Stephanie said, “no, I don’t think. I know it’s going to get better because I don’t know where else to go but up from where we are.”
A bright spot is Chinaya’s future, she’s been accepted at Spellman University and hopes to become a legal analyst on tv news one day.
“After I graduate,” she said, “hopefully I’ll go to law school or if not law school, I’ll join the news stations.”
Thanks to Project Grad and a new laptop, she’s on her way.
“It’s huge,” Stephanie said. “Just even think about the $4,000 scholarship and what the computer with the laptop means to me is being a single parent, that’s one less thing that I have to worry about in preparing her for her next step in life.”
Chinaya has a message for news directors who may be watching: “I’m up next and I’ll be nice and ready to meet you,” she laughed.